Udupi Sambar Recipe

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It is a fact that the South Indian combination of sambar-rice is one of the most comforting meals that can ever be. And why wouldn’t it be? It is a close relative of the quintessential ‘dal-rice or dal-chawal’ combo that is famous world over. So, here’s the Udupi Sambar recipe – a personal favorite from the world of sambars. This Udupi Sambar is spiced, slightly sweet, tangy, and made with pigeon pea lentils, tamarind, spices, herbs and mixed veggies.

udupi sambar in a bowl with spoon

More on this Udupi Sambar

If you ask me, the freshly ground Udupi Sambar Powder is the USP of this dish. The choicest of spices, chana dal (Bengal gram) and dried red chilies are roasted first and then ground to a lovely fragrant paste with coconut and water. When you add this to the sambar, it’s nothing less than magic!

The vegetables that I have added in this Udupi Sambar are carrot, drumsticks, brinjal (aubergine) and bottle gourd (lauki). You can use any other veggie that usually goes well in a sambar. Adding these only improves the nutrition quotient of the sambar and makes it filling too.

Generally, Udupi cuisine does not use any onion or garlic as well. However, I have used some pearl onions (sambar onions) in this Udupi Sambar. You can completely skip these.

This Udupi Sambar recipe is easy to make and can be served with steamed rice, Idli, Dosa or a Mysore Masala Dosa.

udupi sambar in a bowl with spoon

Udupi Sambar and Me

I’d developed a love-hate relationship with the Udupi Sambar since the first time I tried it at some restaurants in Bangalore (now Bengaluru), Karnataka and Mumbai in Maharashtra. Initially, I never understood the subtle sweetness in this sambar, and disliked it.

While growing up, the sambars that I had at home were never really sweet. Eventually, with the passing of years, I did develop a taste for this ‘sweetness’ in the Udupi Sambar. Today, I absolutely relish this particular flavor profile not only in sambar, but also in dals and kadhis.

Unlike the Kerala Sambar, this Udupi Sambar has a mild sweetness from the jaggery, some sourness from the tamarind, little spiciness from the chilies and a touch of earthiness from the coconut. It is aromatic and very fulfilling. I would call it an ‘all-rounder!’

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Udupi Sambar

Make Udupi Sambar Masala

1. Keep all the ingredients required for making sambar powder ready.

Note: As a reader had suggested in the comments, you can also add 1 teaspoon fennel seeds.

  • 3 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons urad dal (husked and split black gram)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 to 4 dried red chilies (broken and seeds removed)
  • 1 teaspoon chana dal (husked and split Bengal gram)
  • ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
  • ⅛ teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
ingredients for udupi sambar powder

2. Dry roast only the spices mentioned above for the sambar powder on low heat till they become fragrant. Stir often so that the spices roast evenly.

Transfer the roasted spices to a plate and set aside.

dry roasting spices in pan for udupi sambar powder

3. When cooled, add the roasted spices in a grinder jar, together with ⅓ cup water (or as required) and ¼ cup grated fresh coconut. Grind to a fine paste. You can also use desiccated coconut instead of fresh coconut.

adding roasted spices in grinder jar along with water and coconut for udupi sambar powder

4. This is how the paste will look like.

freshly ground paste

Cook Lentils and More Prep

5. In a 2 litre pressure cooker, add ⅓ cup tur/arhar dal (pigeon pea lentils) and ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder.

adding tuvar dal and turmeric powder in pressure cooker for udupi sambar

6. Add 2 cups water and pressure cook the dal for 7 to 8 whistles on medium heat or till the dal is well cooked, softened and mushy.

pressure cooking tuvar dal in water for udupi sambar

7. While the dal is cooking, soak 1 tablespoon tightly packed tamarind in ⅓ cup hot water for about 20 to 30 minutes.

soaking tamarind in hot water for udupi sambar

8. Once the pressure settles down naturally in the cooker, then remove the lid.

pressure cooked tuvar dal for udupi sambar

10. Mash the dal with a wired whisk or a spoon. Keep aside.

mashing pressure cooked tuvar dal for udupi sambar

Cook Vegetables

11. In another pan or pot, mix 5 to 6 quartered sambar onions (pearl onions), 1 chopped carrot, ½ cup chopped bottle gourd, 2 to 3 quartered small brinjals, 1 to 2 drumsticks peeled and cut into 3 to 4 inch pieces, 8 to 10 curry leaves and 1 medium size diced tomato. Also add ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder.

adding sambar onions, carrot, bottle gourd, brinjal, drumsticks, curry leaves and turmeric powder in pan for udupi sambar

12. Next, add 2 cups water.

adding water to pan for udupi sambar

13. Cover the pan.

covering the pan for udupi sambar

14. Cook till the vegetables are almost done on medium-low to medium heat.

cooking the vegetables in pan for udupi sambar

Make Udupi Sambar

15. Add the mashed dal to the vegetables.

adding mashed dal to vegetables in pan for udupi sambar

16. Stir and mix well.

mixing dal and vegetables in pan for udupi sambar

17. Squeeze the soaked tamarind with your fingers in the soaked water and extract the pulp.

squeezed tamarind pulp in bowl

18. Stir and add the tamarind pulp. You can also use a mesh strainer to strain the pulp.

adding tamarind pulp to pan for udupi sambar

19. Now, add the prepared ground sambar masala paste.

adding prepared sambar paste in pan for udupi sambar

20. If required, you can add some water to get desired consistency. I added ¼ cup water. Also add salt as required.

adding salt to udupi sambar in pan

21. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons jaggery powder or grated jaggery.

adding jaggery to udupi sambar in oan

22. Stir and mix well.

mixing udupi sambar in oan

23. Simmer for 10 to 12 minutes or more. You have to simmer till the raw aroma of the tamarind goes away and flavors have merged with each other in the sambar. Check the taste and if required, add more salt.

simmering udupi sambar in pan

Make Tempering

24. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a small pan. Splutter 1 teaspoon mustard seeds.

spluttering mustard seeds in hot oil for tempering of udupi sambar

25. When the mustard seeds crackle, add 2 dried red chilies (broken and seeds removed), 8 to 10 curry leaves and 1 generous pinch of asafoetida (hing).

adding dried red chilies, curry leaves and asafoetida in hot oil for tempering of udupi sambar

26. Fry for some seconds till the curry leaves become crisp and the red chilies darken. Make sure that the spices do not burn.

frying the tempering for udupi sambar

27. Pour the tempering mixture in the Udupi Sambar.

pouring the tempering in the udupi sambar

28. Stir and mix well.

mixing tempering in the udupi sambar

29. Cover the pan with a lid for a few minutes, so that the flavors of the tempering get mixed in the udupi sambar.

covering the udupi sambar

30. Serve Udupi Sambar hot with steamed rice, idli or dosa.

udupi sambar served in a bowl with a spoon

About Udupi Cuisine

Udupi Sambar is a famous dish from the temple town of Udupi, also a city located in the Tulunadu region of southwest coast of India. Udupi cuisine is an integral part of the Tuluva-Mangalorean food repertoire as well.  

One of the most significant features of Udupi cuisine is that it is purely vegetarian, comprising of a wide range of dishes principally made with vegetables, fruits, beans and grains. It is also known to use native ingredients, which is a hallmark of this particular cuisine.

Given the satvik nature of Udupi food, an Udupi restaurant in South India would equal to a ‘Vaishno’ restaurant or dhaba (roadside eatery) in North India. Basically, meaning that both these would strictly serve vegetarian food.

The Udupi Sambar is a must in all Udupi homes, just like its best friend, Masala Dosa which is also believed to have originated in Udupi.

Here’s a post on Udupi Cuisine that I had read about a decade ago. It still holds important to me as the content in it is very interesting and endearing. Do give this a read to know more on this extensive cuisine.

More Sambar Varieties To Try!

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udupi sambar in a bowl with spoon

Udupi Sambar Recipe

Udupi Sambar is a spiced, slightly sweet and tangy sambar made with pigeon pea lentils, mixed vegetables, tamarind and freshly ground udupi sambar masala paste.
4.95 from 18 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Cuisine Karnataka, South Indian
Course Main Course
Diet Vegan
Difficulty Level Moderate
Servings 4
Units

Ingredients

Main ingredients

  • cup pigeon pea lentils (tur dal or arhar dal)
  • 2 cups water for pressure cooking dal
  • 5 to 6 shallots (sambar onions) or 1 medium-sized onion – quartered, optional
  • 1 carrot – peeled and chopped
  • ½ cup chopped bottle gourd (lauki or opo squash)
  • 2 to 3 small brinjals (eggplant or aubergine), quartered
  • 1 or 2 drumsticks – peeled and cut into 3 or 4 inch pieces
  • 1 tomato – medium-sized, diced
  • 8 to 10 curry leaves
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind – tightly packed, soaked in ⅓ cup hot water
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons jaggery or as add as required
  • 2 cups water for cooking vegetables
  • salt as required

For udupi sambar masala

  • 3 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons urad dal (husked and split black gram)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon chana dal (husked and split Bengal gram)
  • ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
  • 3 to 4 dried Byadagi red chilies or Kashmiri red chilies, broken and seeds removed
  • ¼ cup grated fresh coconut or unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • cup water for grinding or add as required

For tempering

  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 dried red chilies – broken and seeds removed
  • 1 generous pinch asafoetida (hing)
  • 8 to 10 curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons oil – any neutral flavored oil or can use coconut oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves – for garnish, (optional)

Instructions
 

Making Udupi sambar masala

  • In a frying pan or skillet, dry roast only the spices mentioned under "for udupi sambar masala". Stir often while roasting/toasting them and ensure that they do not get burnt.
  • When cooled, grind to a fine paste with ⅓ cup water together with grated coconut.

Cooking Lentils and Vegetables

  • Pressure cook tur dal on medium to medium-high heat with 2 cups water and turmeric powder for 7 to 8 whistles on medium heat in a 2 litre pressure cooker
  • Let the pressure fall naturally in the cooker and then only open the lid.
  • When the lentils are cooked and softened, mash them with a wired whisk or a spoon. Set aside.
  • Soak tamarind in hot water and set aside for 20 to 30 minutes. Later extract the pulp from the soaked tamarind. Set the tamarind pulp aside.
  • In another pot or pan, mix the chopped vegetables, 2 cups water, turmeric powder, salt and cook till the vegetables are almost done.

Making Udupi Sambar

  • Add the mashed lentils to the vegetables.
  • Stir and add the tamarind pulp followed by the prepared sambar masala paste. If required you can add some water.
  • Add the jaggery and mix again.
  • Simmer for 10 to 12 minutes or more, till the raw aroma of the tamarind goes away and the flavors have merged with each other in the sambar.
  • Taste and if required add salt.

Making tempering

  • Firstly, heat oil and splutter the mustard seeds. Keep the heat to low.
  • Then, add the red chilies, curry leaves and asafoetida.
  • Fry for some seconds until the red chilies change color and the curry leaves become crisp. Pour the tempering mixture in the sambar.
  • Cover the pan with a lid for a few minutes, so that the flavors of the tempering get mixed in the Sambar.
  • Serve Udupi Sambar hot with steamed rice, idli or dosa.

Notes

  • For the lentils, feel free to use moong lentils or a mix of tur and moong dal. You can also make the udupi sambar with an equal mix of tur dal and masoor dal. 
  • Choose to add vegetables that you have in your pantry or the veggies that are usually added in a sambar. Keep in mind the cooking time of the veggies and add them accordingly while cooking.
  • You can also steam the veggies in a steamer pan instead of cooking them in water.
  • Adjust the consistency of the sambar as needed by adding less or more water.

Nutrition Info (Approximate values)

Nutrition Facts
Udupi Sambar Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 275 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Sodium 182mg8%
Potassium 978mg28%
Carbohydrates 41g14%
Fiber 16g67%
Sugar 17g19%
Protein 9g18%
Vitamin A 3196IU64%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 49mg245%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 96mg116%
Vitamin E 4mg27%
Vitamin K 15µg14%
Calcium 110mg11%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 615µg154%
Iron 4mg22%
Magnesium 89mg22%
Phosphorus 183mg18%
Zinc 2mg13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Udupi Sambar post from the archives first published in May 2013 has been republished and updated on 3 May 2022.

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Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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28 Comments

  1. Hi Dassana,
    Could you please tell if it 3 tsp coriander seeds or three tablespoons, as in the picture the quantity appeared less..
    Thank you..

    1. its 3 teaspoons coriander seeds. thank you for letting me know. its a typo error on my part. so you can use 3 teaspoons or 1 tablespoon of coriander seeds.

  2. Can you tell me in grams measure of tuvar dal and sambar onions. Also what kind of dry chillies you used in your recipe. I just finished cooking tomato sambar of yours. Very very tasty.Thanks for the recipe of tomato sambar.Next time I want to try udupi sambar.

    1. barb, half cup tuvar dal is 95 grams. sambar onions in weight is about 35 to 40 grams. you can add more sambar onions if you want. here i have used stick chilies. they are medium spicy. for this recipe, i would suggest to use byadagi chilies. you can use 4 to 5 byadagi chilies. also thanks for the feedback on tomato sambar. nice to know ?

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